Sometimes when spouses get a divorce, one spouse is at stark financial
disadvantage compared to the other spouse. In particular, divorce cases
where marriages that lasted for more than 10 years during which one spouse
was unemployed the entire time will probably involve a substantial disparity
in financial need between spouses.
Sometimes California courts can rely on a vocational examination to help
determine a spouse’s need for spousal support and the appropriate
duration a spousal support order may be in effect.
Legal Authority for Vocational Examinations
Under Family Code § 4331, the court has discretion whether to order
a vocational examination to help determine issues of spousal support.
A qualified vocational training counselor selected by the court will conduct
the examination and assess factors relevant to a party’s employability.
Factors that may be relevant to a party’s employability include:
- The party’s age;
- The party’s health;
- The education level of the party;
- The marketability of the party’s skills;
- The party’s employment history;
- The current availability of employment opportunities.
A vocational training counselor must meet certain statutory requirements
to qualify for examining someone for spousal support determinations.
At a minimum a vocational training counselor must have the following qualifications:
- A master’s degree in behavioral sciences, or other postgraduate degree
related to vocational evaluation;
- Qualification to administer and interpret inventories for assessing career
- Demonstrated ability in interviewing clients and assessing marketable skills
with an understanding of age constraints, physical and mental health,
previous education and experience, and time and geographic mobility constraints;
- Knowledge of current employment conditions, job market, and wages in the
indicated geographic area.
Requesting an Order for a Vocational Examination
Typically the party who is defending against a spouse’s request for
spousal support will file a motion asking the court to authorize a vocational
assessment for the spouse seeking support. A motion requesting a vocational
examination will usually be accompanied by a statement alleging that the
spouse seeking spousal support is capable of employment after a reasonable
amount of time of good faith job searching.
Effect of a Vocational Examination
A vocational examination will provide the court with an opinion as to the
likelihood the spouse asking for support can obtain gainful employment.
Based on the vocational examiner’s opinion, a court could issue
a spousal support order that terminates after a period of time allowing
the spouse to find employment.
If a spouse makes a good faith effort to find employment, but has not done
so, they can request a post-judgment modification of the spousal support
order to extend the date at which spousal support would terminate.
Consult a Dedicated Westlake Village Divorce Attorney for Advice
Divorce litigation is often a mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing
process. The longer a divorce takes, the more expensive it potentially
becomes. That is why you should call an experienced Westlake Village divorce
attorney who is dedicated to promoting the best interests of you and your
family. At the
Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff, our clients benefit from compassionate and cost-effective legal representation
puts your family’s financial interests about our own business interests
– and so can you.
Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff at (805) 633-4999 or
contact us online to learn how we can help you handle your divorce issues.